SYM was founded on the centenary of the death of Don Bosco in1988, the founder and father of the Salesian family.
Don Bosco’s passion for education notwithstanding, he could never have imagined a movement and spirituality for youth in the modern sense of these terms.
However, his educational ideas gave rise to the experience of the oratory, as a meeting place for creating friendship, and fertile ground for stimulating the commitment and activism of young people. Evidence of this comes from the different forms of youth associations that arose out of his original idea: those “companies” — as he used to call them — to be considered as the “work of the young people themselves,” and which were to develop worldwide until the 1960s.
Following the Second Vatican Council, the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians relaunched Don Bosco’s “preventive system,” seeking new forms of expressing this educational practice based on the Gospel and on reason. It could become a model for all those working in the field of youth education and wishing to use the “memory” of an experience that could be tailored to suit the new conditions in which young people were living. The subsequent establishment of groups and associations prepared the ground for the possibility of a “movement” in the early 1980s, based on the Salesian spirituality of young people, in communion with the Church and at the service of youth.
SYM comprises groups and associations which accept the Salesian spirituality and pedagogy. While remaining autonomous in organizational and operational terms, they guarantee a high-quality educational presence in the new forms of socialization of young people, animating them to have a meaningful experience of Church life.
As a movement “of young people for young people,” defined by reference to a common spirituality and communication between groups that guarantees the circulation of messages and values, SYM brings together young people from every kind of background, from those who are far from the Church and for whom spirituality is barely a seed, to those who explicitly and consciously take upon themselves the Salesian proposal and apostolic commitment.
One particular purpose of the movement is to form good Christians and honest citizens, apostles of young people, according to the possibilities of each individual, at the school of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.
SYM has the minimum basic structure to guarantee and coordinate the circulation of the values of Salesian youth spirituality. Each group in the movement is therefore urged to find the most appropriate ways of performing this coordination, bearing in mind the following criteria: incorporation into the local churches, increasing the active participation of young people, analyzing the sociopolitical and cultural environment in which they are working.